Wim Betten, CEO of the cheese cooperative Cono Kaasmakers, who left in the summer, takes stock of 2022 in an interview with Boerderij. The company was consistently the best-paying dairy in the Netherlands for years, but was 2 cents below FrieslandCampina in terms of milk price in 2022. Con deliberately chose to focus on cheese, even if another product combination would have brought a higher milk price, Betten says. Nevertheless, Cono had its best year ever in terms of retail sales of Beemster cheese.
Cono had made a conscious decision to continue cheese-making 75% of the milk, even though the drying tower can process two-thirds of the milk volume. If the cooperative had reduced cheese production last year, this would have affected sales of the branded cheeses not only in 2022, but also in subsequent years. Much less matured cheese would have been available in ’23, ’24 and ’25.
As of 1 January 2023, Cono Kaasmakers has 420 members, 20 more than the previous year. Together, Cono’s dairy farmers supply over 400m kilos of milk, producing around 34,000 tonnes of cheese at a capacity of 40,000 tons. With limited investment, 50,000 tons could be produced. But Cono would rather produce one kilo of cheese too little than one kilo too much, Betten said in the interview.
Betten’s successor will be the current sales director for Benelux and the USA, Jerry Griep (55).